An ultra-deep natural gas well being drilled in the Gulf of Mexico on the Treasure Island play by a consortium of producers will be temporarily abandoned after failing to reach its primary targets. The well failed to reach its targets because of higher than expected pressure, said 23%-stakeholder Newfield Exploration Co.

The Blackbeard West No. 1 exploration test, located at South Timbalier 168 in 70 feet of water, was drilled to a total depth of 30,067 feet and encountered a thin gas bearing sand below 30,000 feet. ExxonMobil Corp., a 25% stakeholder, is the operator. The well, discovered in early 2004, was spud by ExxonMobil in early 2005 (see Daily GPI, April 23, 2004). Other stakeholders include BP Exploration and Production Inc. (20%), Petrobras America Inc. (20%), Dominion Exploration & Production Inc. (7%) and BHP Billiton Petroleum (Deepwater) Inc. (5%).

“Although disappointed that we were unable to test our primary objectives, we have learned a great deal about drilling ultra-deep wells,” said Newfield CEO David A. Trice. “This has been a challenging well to test a true frontier play, but Newfield is sufficiently encouraged to continue investing in this play. We intend to use the information gathered from this well to investigate if a well can be designed which will allow us to safely test this prospect in the future.”

Newfield said it would likely be two years before a redesigned well could be drilled. So far, the partners have spent an estimated $100 million or more on the project. Newfield estimates it has spent about $25 million.

The Blackbeard West No. 1 well covers multiple blocks in the South Timbalier and Ship Shoal areas offshore Louisiana in the Treasure Island play. A Treasure Island Royalty Trust was established after Newfield acquired EEX Corp. in November 2002. Its sole purpose was to hold nonexpense bearing overriding royalty interests in future production from the ultra-deep zones of the area.

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